Press Releases

Beyer-Wittman Legislation Protects Federal Employees from Shutdown

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Washington, September 29, 2015 | Tia Shuyler (202-225-4376) | comments

Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced H.R. 3635, the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,” which would secure retroactive pay for all federal employees during a federal government shutdown, regardless of furlough status.  Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) is the lead Republican cosponsor.

“Federal employees have financial obligations just like everyone else.  Congress must not jeopardize their financial security yet again,” said Rep. Beyer (VA-08).  “This bipartisan legislation ensures that these public servants are made whole if Congress cannot keep our government running.”

Federal employee pay is suspended in the event of a funding lapse or government shutdown.  Retroactive pay for all “essential” and “non-essential” federal workers must be approved by Congress.

“The all-too-common uncertainty that plagues budget discussions in Washington is undermining the important work our federal employees carry out on behalf of their fellow citizens. It is critical to protect these public servants and their families from this uncertainty, and at the same time to bring accountability to the way Congress carries out its business. Long-term vision is necessary for ending this recurring cycle of governing by crisis,” said Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-01).

Congressman Beyer’s 8th District and Congressman Wittman’s 1st District in Virginia are home to approximately 120,000 federal employees. 

The National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees have each voiced their support for Beyer-Wittman’s Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act.

“For the second time in two years, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are facing the possibility of being furloughed without pay or being required to work not knowing when they will get paid,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “NTEU appreciates the work of Rep. Beyer and other sponsors of this bill to mitigate the impact on our members, who don’t deserve to yet again face uncertainty at work, and in their wallets.”

AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr. voiced his support for the legislation, saying: “AFGE thanks Representatives Don Beyer and Rob Wittman for their leadership in introducing the Retroactive Fair Pay Act of 2015. The prospect of another government shutdown is unsettling enough for employees, without the added threat of permanently lost income, falling behind on bills and other adverse financial consequences.   This bipartisan legislation takes at least one concern off the table, so employees can focus like they always do on securing our borders, keeping terrorists off of airplanes, and caring for our nation’s heroes.”

The bill had 64 bipartisan cosponsors when it was introduced today, including the entire national capitol region delegation.

“I’m proud to represent tens of thousands of hardworking and dedicated federal employees in Maryland’s Fifth District who should not be penalized in the event of a government shutdown,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05). “I hope that Congress will fund the government so that our federal employees who are responsible for the safety and well-being of our nation can continue the many services they perform for all Americans. I am cosponsoring this legislation with my colleagues so that if a shutdown does occur, we can ensure that our federal employees will receive retroactive pay.”

“The callous subjection of millions of our nation’s federal workers to near annual fear and uncertainty about federal shutdowns make them first line victims of congressional dysfunction,” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) said.  “Our bill will give all federal workers the peace of mind their hard work has earned that they will receive back pay when the government reopens.”

“Federal employees should not be harmed if Congress fails to reach an agreement to avoid a government shutdown,” stated Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03).  “I commend Congressman Beyer and Congressman Wittman for working together to give federal employees some peace of mind that they will be retroactively paid if there is a shutdown.”

"I remind those Members of Congress determined to shut down the government that their political gamesmanship hurts federal workers, including many of my constituents, and the American people they serve. This legislation is the least we can do to help federal employees who are locked out of work through no fault of their own," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-07).

"Federal employees should not bear the brunt of Congress' inability to pass a budget," said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02).

“Another government shutdown would be a shameful and fruitless endeavor. But if partisan lawmakers insist on holding the country hostage to their ideological agenda, then the least we can do is ensure our dedicated public servants don’t pay the price for Congress’ dysfunction,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08).

“While we have seemingly averted this latest crisis, we need to ensure that when the next manufactured threat of a shutdown occurs, our federal workers remain protected,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03). “We must prevent partisan politics from harming the financial security of hardworking federal employees and their families.” 

“The government shutdown in 2013 cost our economy $24 billion and 120,000 private-sector jobs,” Rep. Donna Edwards (MD-04) said.  “It is unconscionable that some would be willing to repeat such a costly mistake, but we are on the brink once again.  It is time to move past partisanship and ideology, and instead work to keep 128,000 Maryland federal employees on the job.  I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the ‘Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,’ and to work with my colleagues to ensure that Maryland’s federal employees, and millions more across the country, receive the pay they deserve.”       

“I am proud to represent thousands of public servants, yet those pushing Congress toward another reckless government shutdown fail to recognize that the vast majority of federal employees actually live outside of this region in their own home states. These are middle class Americans providing vital services on behalf of our neighbors each and every day. Their work should be celebrated and, yes, fairly compensated,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11). “Our colleagues often say government should be run more like a business, yet they once again are on the verge of allowing narrow partisanship to cleave a self-inflicted wound on our economy.”

“Federal workers should not be burdened by Washington’s dysfunction,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02). “We need to make sure these hard working men and women are made whole if there is an unfortunate government shutdown.” 

“Hard-working federal employees shouldn’t pay the price for partisan dysfunction in Washington,” said Rep. John Delaney (MD-06). “I’m proud to stand with federal workers and their families in cosponsoring legislation to ensure that they do not suffer needless financial hardship because extremists in Congress cause a shutdown. Maryland is home to over 100,000 federal employees, men and women who make our country safer, more innovative and stronger. It is outrageous that my constituents are facing furloughs because a loud few are pursuing a partisan agenda.”

“I am working hard with my colleagues to keep the government open because federal employees and contractors should not be used as a political football by either side for partisan gain.  We are a nation that faces national security and homeland security threats.  Federal employees, including FBI agents are working around the clock tracking down terrorists, in addition to Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, and National Security Agency analysts who are monitoring incoming intelligence and are on the frontlines keeping us safe.  These dedicated employees, as well as the rest of our federal workforce such as researchers who are working on medical breakthroughs at NIH and VA doctors and nurses who treat our wounded warriors need to know that their government will honor its commitment to these workers and their families.  As we move toward October 1st, I will continue to talk and work with my colleagues to make sure the government remains open,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock (VA-10).

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